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Although the practice of commercial sex work is illegal in Nigeria, sex work activities and brothels still thrive in residential neighbourhoods across the country, leaving residents as proximate and direct victims of unregulated sex business. Yet, relatively little research exists on the exposures and vulnerabilities of young adults who spend their childhood in communities that host sex business in the country. To address this, a qualitative study was conducted with people who had children that grew up in the red lights areas, and the challenges of parenting by the participants in environments where prostitution thrived were explored. Fifty-seven interviews were conducted, and a thematic analysis of the narratives was carried out. Findings indicated that the activities of sex work and sex workers in these environments pose a threat to the physical, social, cognitive, moral and educational development of the children. The rate of children’s engagement in premarital sex, consumption of illicit drugs, alcoholic intake, stealing, street fighting, and school dropout was found to be a factor of their closeness to sex work and workers in red light areas. These findings have important implications for policy and practice if children’s welfare and developmental needs are to be recognised and met.
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